March 28, 2015

Ready to Become a Fan of... Ellen Hopkins

Ready to Become a Fan of... focuses on those authors new and old whose works I have every intention of eventually reading, but haven't been able to devote the time to just yet. By discussing authors and their works that I'm sure I'll love, given the chance, hopefully I can be more easily compelled to take the next step in not simply acquiring one of their books, but actually take the time to read it.

This month I'm putting on record that I am ready to become a fan of Ellen Hopkins.

About the author:
Ellen Hopkins is a poet, freelance writer, and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction titles and nine NY Times Bestselling young adult novels-in-verse, plus two adult novels. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to winegrowing. Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is a regular speaker at schools, book festivals and writers conferences across the US, and now throughout the world. (Source)

Work I'm most looking forward to reading:

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter, gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina. Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul - her life. (WorldCat)

Why this author & this work:
I've been hearing praise for Hopkins' works since I was in college, if not before. My current class on young adult literature has gotten me thinking about genres/formats such as free verse and the major young adult authors found within those categories (and Hopkins is obviously at the top there).

I'm not sure I'd enjoy any of Hopkins' books, to be quite honest. All their synopses make them sound gritty, hopeless, and uncomfortable, to be quite honest. But I don't read purely to stay within my comfort zone; good readers should want to have their limits tested by great fiction, and from all I've heard of Hopkins' works, I'm pretty sure she can deliver on that front.

NoveList recommends that readers start with Crank as an introduction to Hopkins' works, and as it's also her debut (a highly acclaimed one at that), I wouldn't want to start with any other book. I just got a copy of it from the library yesterday, actually.

For those of you who've already read some of Hopkins' works, I'd appreciate hearing what you think about them. For those who also haven't read his works yet, let me know what's been holding you back!

Ready to Become a Fan of... is an original feature of Late Nights with Good Books.
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March 26, 2015

Review: Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell

Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell
Published: 2013, Harper
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

Tilda is not all that fond of the duties and responsibilities that come with being princess of Alder Brook. And she knows that her people are not that fond of the fact that their heir has a lame foot. What Tilda really wants to do is to be like her muse, the writer Boethius, and write great works that would have people remember her as a writer, rather than as the princess with the lame foot.

Through a combination of circumstances, Tilda finds herself a fugitive, unable to return to her homeland, and also in the company of her two friends eager to prove themselves by slaying dragons. Tilda begins crafting the Handbook for Dragon Slayers in the hope that it will establish her value as a writer. As for her lands, well, she figures she’s not a good princess anyway and is content to first travel with her dragon-slaying friends and then perhaps join a convent and devote her life to writing.
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March 24, 2015

Top Ten Childhood Books to Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing the top ten books from our childhoods that we'd love to revisit. 

I had a lot of fun digging through the boxes of books we keep in the basement. Seeing old favorites brings up so many happy memories. I was introduced to the ten books below when I was in elementary school (or maybe in early middle school). 

I'm not sure when I'll have time to read them, but it's comforting knowing that they'll be waiting for me whenever I have the chance to crack open their spines once more.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Voyage of the Basset by James C. Christensen
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Did you read any of these during your childhood?

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March 18, 2015

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Published: 2011, Scholastic, Inc.
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction, Satire
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

“Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can be who they really are.”

En route to an island getaway where pageant contestants are to prepare for their big event, the plane carrying the contestants for the Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant crashes. The majority of the contestants die, as do all the adult sponsors, leaving about a dozen teen girls to figure out how to survive while they wait to be rescued.

Beauty Queens defies any easy classification. It is partially a survival story, as the girls learn to build shelters, fish, and (gasp!) eat grubs. It has dystopian leanings, as the world in which the girls inhabit is run by the totalitarian Corporation, which attempts to control all aspects of its citizens’ lives, especially the females. It has a tendency towards the fantastical, as the island comes alive with man-eating snakes, a mysteriously lighting volcano, and conspiracy theories galore. It is feminist through the depictions of its lead females and their actions, hopes, and needs. And it’s also pure satire, with all the Corporation propaganda and the comments on beauty and power.
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March 17, 2015

Top Ten Books on my Spring 2015 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing the books that have made it to the top of our Spring 2015 TBR lists.

New & Upcoming Spring Releases:
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh — Because fairy-tale/fable retellings will always capture my interest. And is that a gorgeous cover or what?
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio — It was delightful to hear Gregorio speak at a panel on diversity in YA lit, and I'm super curious to learn more about what intersex really is. 
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas — Again, me and fairy-tale retellings just go together so well. The hype is exciting, as is the fact that this uses aspects of two of my favorite tales: "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tam Lin."
All the Rage by Courtney Summers — To be quite honest, I'm a bit intimidated by what I've heard about how gritty and dark this novel is. But I've come to expect that from the Summers works I've read, and rape is something we do need to keep discussing.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir — My ARC is currently on loan, but as soon as it is returned, I plan on devouring it. I finding new YA high fantasy series to love is as important to me as needing to breathe. Or something like that.

Owned Older Reads:
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison — This book has definitely made my reading lists of shame many times now. If I don't get to it within the next few weeks, it will definitely be a priority for this summer.
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas — I did not like Throne of Glass, but I recently read The Assassin's Blade (neither reviewed yet) and actually enjoyed it. I figure I better continue with the series while I still have momentum.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery — I got that adorable Puffin version over the Christmas holidays and really, really need to start this soon. I cannot wait to be finally introduced to Anne and Gilbert and Prince Edward Island!
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss — I kind of still need to write my review for The Name of the Wind (which was fantastic and easily one of my top reads so far this year), so waiting for that before I dive into part two!
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente — I don't even want to think about how many times this book has been on here now. Hopefully making my shame public on this will persuade me to read this one at some point.

Please be sure to let me know what books you plan on reading this spring!
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March 15, 2015

Showcase Sunday #23

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

This is a slightly belated haul of all my February books.

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
This was my Valentine's Day present from my boyfriend (which I not-so-subtly suggested would make a good gift). I really enjoyed The Name of the Wind and this is his new favorite series so I'm looking forward to reading/discussing it with him. 
Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2) by Rachel Hartman
Many thanks to Random House Children's and Netgalley! I freaking loved Seraphina and cannot wait to continue this series.
How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
Anniversary gift from my boyfriend! I like the idea of memoir nonfiction related to classical literature. But before reading this, I need to first read a few of the novels it mentions (Anne of Green Gables, Franny and Zooey, A Room with a 
View, Valley of the Dolls, Cold Comfort Farm...)

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March 13, 2015

Review: El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Published: 2014, Amulet Books
Genre: Middle Grade Memoir
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

When she was four, Cece Bell was hospitalized for meningitis. Shortly after she was released, Cece’s parents began to realize that her infection had caused severe deafness. El Deafo is Cece’s memoir of how she struggled with hearing loss during her childhood.

El Deafo is the nickname/superhero persona that Cece gives herself. Cece is given regular hearing aids to wear while at home, but her doctors do not think those are sufficient for her to use at school, and so she’s also given a Phonic Ear. The Phonic Ear consists of a hearing aid box she straps across her chest, earbud-like cords that attach to her ears, and a microphone that her teachers wear. Cece quickly discovers that the Phonic Ear is not only extremely helpful in hearing all that her teachers say, but that if her teachers forget to turn it off during breaks, she can hear what they’re saying and doing all over the school. In a world where she can’t help but feel disabled (especially since everyone else is willing to propagate that perception in their treatment of her), the Phonic Ear has given Cece what effectively feels like a superpower.
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March 3, 2015

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books Since I Started Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing our all-time favorite books from the past three or five years. Since I started blogging mid-2012, I decided to list some of my favorite books read since I started Late Nights with Good Books.

All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry
All the Truth That’s in Me hits every single right note for me as a lover of stories. Beautiful and experimental prose, a realistic, well-written protagonist with a host of emotional struggles, a subtle, sweet romance, situations that delve into major life truths. (Read my full review)  
Fire by Kristin Cashore
I didn't think it was possible for Kristin Cashore to create a companion novel in the world of Graceling that I'd love just as much as Graceling. I didn't think it was possible for me to love a new female protagonist just as much as I love Katsa. And then I met Fire and became immersed in a story about the political and societal intrigues of her world beyond the mountains. (Read my full review)
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Vessel is undisputedly one of the superior novels I've read this year. It features a well-crafted storyline, detailed worldbuilding, and three-dimensional characters. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fantastic high fantasy stand-alone.(Read my full review)  
Eon duology by Alison Goodman
In Eon, Goodman has created an incredibly layered world and a heroine worth admiring. Eon is more than a story about a girl who does not wish to follow conventions, but rather about this girl's small part in a society on the verge of many changes. (Read my full review)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
This is such a subtle, well-imagined, and intelligent fantasy. Yes, it features a world of dragons and magic, but those all simply work to assist the bigger message. Seraphina is all about acceptance and the characters learning to overcome stereotypes. (Read my full review)
The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
Marchetta deserves the highest possible praise for her characterizations; most of her characters are downright unlikable at times, but they’re so undeniably human, so very real. (Read my full review)
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (or The Sky is Everywhere)
This is a story about learning how to heal and move forward with one’s life, and Noah and Jude’s struggles to do so are both realistic and ultimately satisfying. (Read my full review)  
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
What ultimately made Daughter of Smoke & Bone such a powerful read was that Laini Taylor has this ability to take things that could easily become cliches and turn them instead into something incredibly unique. (Read my full review)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Walton’s debut is indeed a strange and beautiful tale. It’s also one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Amid so many young adult novels that feature similar plots, similar characters, and similar storylines, this is a welcome change indeed. (Read my full review)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Reading this book made me experience such a wide range of emotions, not all pleasant. But, reflecting back on my experience reading the book, I still retain a sense of awe for such a wonderful story. (Read my full review)

Let me know what some of your recent favorite books are! 
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